A Milwaukee man killed his girlfriend and her two children after a fight — it’s a decision that will put him behind bars for decades.
Arzel Ivery was sentenced to life in prison without parole earlier this month for the triple murder of his family members. He pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of Amarah “Jerica” Banks, 26, Zaniya Ivery, 5, and Camaria Banks, 4.
On Feb. 8, 2020, an AMBER Alert was issued for Banks and her daughters after they were reported missing. Eight days later, their charred remains were found in a garage close to 47th Street and Burleigh Street.
Ivery fled from Wisconsin and was later apprehended.
Banks and Ivery had reportedly been in a fight after the funeral of the couple’s 21-month-old son, Arzel Ivery Jr., who died from bronchitis. Banks and her family had reportedly blamed Ivery for the infant's death because he delayed getting medical help. He strangled Banks and the children.
Initially, Ivery attempted to dismember the bodies but later decided to burn their remains. Upon the search of the family’s residence, investigators determined the home had been cleaned thoroughly with bleach and had found just a spot of blood on a napkin. However, after a cadaver dog was brought to the premises, it led investigators to a spot in the carpet that was soaked in blood.
"The defendant killed three people and cut one and cleaned it up so well that all the police had when they first went in was a hole and a single drop of blood on a napkin," said Prosecutor Grant Huebner, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
Ivery's attorney, Travis Schwantes, described the defendant as schizophrenic and suicidal according to his past diagnosis. He appealed to the court to grant Ivery the opportunity to petition for extended supervision after he had served 40 years of a prison sentence.
Schwantes made the appeal based on the defendant’s lack of criminal history. Ivery had only one domestic altercation with Banks on record in 2018. He was not charged in connection to that incident.
Judge Stephanie Rothstein disagreed and sentenced Ivery to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
"Arzel, we treated you like a son. How dare you do this to us. How dare you rip out all of our hearts. Today was an ending, but there's still no closure. Justice was served, but there's no closure,” said Valeria Spinner-Banks, the victims’ mother and grandmother in court, according to WISN.
In partnership with Sojourner Family Peace Center, the family now works to help other victims of domestic violence.